A few dozen students and parents gathered outside Lansdowne Middle School South Campus Monday morning to protest proposed budget cuts to SD61 music programs. From left to right: Lyra Gaudin, Cleo Bateman, Abby Farish, Brigitte Peters, Enid Gaudin, Des Farish. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

A few dozen students and parents gathered outside Lansdowne Middle School South Campus Monday morning to protest proposed budget cuts to SD61 music programs. From left to right: Lyra Gaudin, Cleo Bateman, Abby Farish, Brigitte Peters, Enid Gaudin, Des Farish. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

Students protest proposed cuts to SD61 music programs

Proposed $1.5-million cut would hit elementary and middle school programs

Fearful of losing the thing that gets them through the school day, a couple of dozen students gathered in front of their middle school Monday morning to play their instruments in protest of proposed cuts to music programs.

Last week, the Greater Victoria School District released a draft budget for its 2021-2022 school year, revealing an over $7-million deficit and plans to make significant cuts to its elementary and middle school music programs.

Standing outside Lansdowne Middle School south campus on Monday, Gareth Gaudin called the $1,566,360 proposed cut “creative profiling.” His two daughters depend on the music program as the one thing they enjoy going to school for. Why, Gaudin asked, is funding always cut from the arts?

If the budget goes through, all band, string, ukulele and choir programs for Grades 6 and 7 will be eliminated. A possible exploratory, or general, option could replace them. Those in Grade 8 will be left with an optional band program to transition them into high school.

“It’s an easy target because they’re not protected by provincial models,” Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association vice-president Carolyn Howe said. Provincial funding, she explained, is divided between students in Kindergarten to Grade 7 and students in Grades 8 to 12. For music, those in the first category only receive funding for “prep” programs.

When the school district decided to create middle schools, Howe said, it committed to investing in music programs itself to fill the gap in provincial funding and give students in Grades 6 and 7 access to more in-depth options.

Grace Bateman (left) holds up sheet music for fellow cello players Lily Carefoot (middle) and Ella Hammer (right) as they play in protest of proposed cuts to Greater Victoria music programs in front of Lansdowne Middle School South Campus Monday morning. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

“That music can be a thread that connects you through those three levels (elementary, middle and high school) of schooling,” Howe said.

Laura Walters, who has two children in the Lansdowne Middle School music program, said she is shocked these cuts are being made during a pandemic. Music, she said, is the one thing that has kept her kids’ mental balance over the last year. “Music touches our souls,” she said.

“Participating in the arts is really meaningful,” Howe added. “It lets students express themselves and it gives them another way of relating to the world around them.”

In a letter to parents, school district superintendent Shelley Green emphasized that no decisions have been made and that the budget is subject to deliberation by the board.

“I know the upcoming weeks will be difficult as we come to realize the items in the budget we simply cannot sustain,” she wrote.

Those interested in providing feedback have until 4 p.m. April 12 to take part in an online forum at sd61.bc.ca.

The school board met on Tuesday to discuss the budget and a public information session is planned for April 21. The full budget proposal can be viewed in the agenda section of the district’s board meeting page.


Just Posted

The City of Victoria hopes to improve its cultural spaces this year and it wants non-profits to help. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Grants up to $125,000 open to Victoria non-profit arts and cultural organizations

Victoria Cultural Infrastructure Grant applications close at the end of May

Sofia Watts, Charlotte Magill and Harriet Knight were among the KELSET Elementary School students releasing salmon fry into Reay Creek May 7. (Ian Bruce/Submitted)
Saanich Peninsula elementary students help restock, clean up local creeks

Salmon fry releases took place at Reay Creek and Tetayut Creek

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich health and safety manager named one of Canada’s top 40 women in safety

Canadian Occupational Safety magazine celebrates women leading safety sector in 2021

Pacific sand dollars are a local species which belong to the same group as sea urchins. While alive, they are covered entirely by thousands of densely packed, short and slender spikes. (Photo courtesy of Louise Page)
The peculiar life of a Pacific sand dollar

UVic biology professor Louise Page offers a glace into sand dollars’ world under the water

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read